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Rifle actions: Chrome Moly or Stainless Steel?

07 Feb 2015
@ 06:43 pm (GMT)



After reading Nathan's excellent book on long range hunting rifles, I have been wondering whether we need to think about which metals our actions are made from, as well as barrels?

The difference between a CM and SS barrels in resisting corrosion can become stark when living in a wet or humid environment ( I'm in Wales, it's wet here most of the time!). Traditionally SS barrels do better at staving off the rust, although I understand that a good cleaning regime equals things out a little.

The reason why all this is on my mind is because I've been looking at two actions recently, one by Defiance Machine and the other by Pierce Engineering. By all accounts both actions are excellent however the Defiance is 416SS whereas the Pierce is 4150 CM, heat treated to 37RC.

My question is, which action would best serve me given the wet environment I live?
Are the same points of concern regarding CM & SS barrels of relevance when choosing an action? Or does the fact that barrels undergo huge temperature changes affect the properties of the steel more than it would with an action?
Lastly, would it be more prudent to 'coat' a CM action in something like Ceracote or similar?

Many thanks in advance.


07 Feb 2015
@ 07:36 pm (GMT)


Re: Rifle actions: Chrome Moly or Stainless Steel?
P.s. Apologies forh e poor grammar and spelling above. Typing on a smart phone one handed, while holding a sleeping 3 month old in the other, isn't easy! 😃
07 Feb 2015
@ 09:16 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: Rifle actions: Chrome Moly or Stainless Steel?
Multi tasking. Hell don't tell your wife, it will raise expectations.

If you can get stainless, go for it. Otherwise, I do find that the action is less critical. Light flash rusting from a couple of days in the bush is far less detrimental to the action than it is to bore tolerances. I laso find that if the steel has been blasted and blued, the pores can be loaded with hot grease which helps prevent corrosion.

Paint is not such an easy subject as I wrote in my book. You should really avoid painting below the stock line.

In the Clint Eastwood retelling of Chris Kyle's time as a sniper, the rifle is painted. In his book, Chris writes that he used tape and paint.

All of these considerations are in the Accurizing and Maintenance book.

Hope that helps.
07 Feb 2015
@ 10:33 pm (GMT)

Martin Taylor

Re: Rifle actions: Chrome Moly or Stainless Steel?
I have 2 Parkerized Remington’s which l would think is very close to Ceracote along with a couple of SS and prefer the SS in every way.
If you scratch the painted finish it will rust underneath and it wears around the moving parts as you would expect. The finish also seems to stain easily and being black it shows up everything. Field maintenance is also easier with the SS so it will be the way l go when l get around to a custom build.
08 Feb 2015
@ 03:48 pm (GMT)


Re: Rifle actions: Chrome Moly or Stainless Steel?
Nathan & Martin,

Thank you both for the replies. I was always leaning to the SS action but thought I'd get some professional advice before making any decisions.

On the subject of using paint, I think military users are under strickt constraints on what they can and cannot do to their equipment. Quartermasters go ballistic if their equipment is painted or modified unofficially (so it is in the UK anyway). In the case of special forces, who may have to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world, it's beneficial to have tape & paint as it's quick to strip the scheme from one environment and tape up for the next at very short notice.

Thank you again.




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